105 thoughts on “Nine Breakthroughs and a Breakdown

  1. BillyJoe “As I said before, there is the truth of the matter, and then there is what you do with that truth.”

    Yes, my bad then, I think I must have missed the bit where you said it before.

  2. Billy Joe – I don’t know what a swifty is, but (maybe) yes.

    Also – what the heck are you doing up? – go to bed!

  3. Jurjen S. says:

    wales wrote:

    Advanced weaponry (thanks to science and technology) has escalated the body count. 9/11 made Dawkins stand up and say “enough” with this dangerous religious stuff. Many felt the same way about science after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

    It’s highly disputable whether the atom bomb actually increased the body count of World War II, since the bombs did almost certainly force Japan to an earlier surrender than it would otherwise have. Prior to the first test detonation in July 1945, American command staff proposed two options for forcing a Japanese surrender; the Navy staff favored occupying ports in mainland China as staging areas for a combined naval blockade and aerial bombardment campaign, whereas the Army (and CINCPAC, Adm. Nimitz) favored an invasion of the Japanese home islands. An argument against the latter was that the capture of Okinawa had taken a massive toll in American lives: 12,000 soldiers, marines and sailors, with a casualty rate in dead and wounded of 35%. If the invasion of the home islands incurred a similar rate, the capture of the southern third of Kyushu (to serve as a staging area for the subsequent invasion of Honshu) alone would cost the U.S. 268,000 dead and wounded. Honshu would be far worse. The reason the Joint Chiefs of Staff even opted for Operation DOWNFALL (as the plan was code-named) was because, due to the presence of sizable Japanese forces in China, Manchuria and Korea, casualty rates might be little better if the naval blockade were opted for (plus the blockade might take years to achieve the desired effect, if at all).

    In addition to the American body count, there is also the Japanese casualty rate to consider. American losses on Okinawa were mild compared to Japanese troops (70,000 dead) and Okinawan civilians (80,000). With the Japanese Imperial Army staff intending to press every able-bodied Japanese citizen into service, with sharpened bamboo spears or as suicide bombers if necessary, an invasion of the Japanese home islands might have resulted in something in order of a million Japanese deaths (possibly more) as direct casualties, not counting the additional deaths from disease and starvation in the aftermath.

    Then there is also the fact to consider that at the time of the surrender, Japan still occupied a sizable amount of territory in east Asia, where the local populace, as well as PoWs and interned western civilians, continued to die. Every month that Japan did not surrender, there would be more dead.

    There are counter-arguments to this, but it is facile to assert without qualification that the atom bomb caused an increase in the casualties of WWII.

  4. Jurjen S. on the war in the Pacific:
    “Every month that Japan did not surrender, there would be more dead.”

    What would have happened if the Americans had packed their bags and gone home?

    BillyJoe on the Hard Problem:
    “Imagine two identical blocks of wood. … Hope that helped.”


    Steve Novella’s analogy is two computers. They’re both processing away, they both have access to their own information and not the other’s information, and we see no paradox. Why should we see a paradox for ourselves?

    I do, though.

    Thanks for trying.

  5. wales says:

    “it is facile to assert without qualification that the atom bomb caused an increase in the casualties of WWII.”

    That’s not what I said. To clarify, I said that a) the atomic bomb was the single most destructive weapon developed at the time and b) that advanced weaponry during the world wars increased body count over previous historical wars, advanced weaponry including the bomber aircraft of both wars. Even without atomic weaponry military fatalities increased due to advances in technology.

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